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So…what do you DO with that stuff??

So…what do you DO with that stuff??

Spinners who participate at demonstrations hear this question all the time. After washing, dyeing, carding/combing then spinning the most delicious yarn in the world, we have to do more? Isn’t this enough? Apparently there is an expectation that all our lovely yarn has to be used for something else. For years that wasn’t my problem; that was left to the devices of much more talented weavers, knitters, felters and other fiber artists. This was when we had fiber festivals and gathers of like minded people who could touch yarn and evaluate the grist for their next project. To my great surprise, I can spin a lot of yarn in a year.

During one of the relaxed periods of lock-down I was able to buy a lovely little loom. It was a Leclerc Mira, 27 inch, four harness, sectional beam. This little button came with all the bells and whistles – warping mill, bobbin rack with bobbins, electric bobbin winder, skein winder, shuttles, extra heddles, reeds, counter, the list keeps going and going. I was truly blessed to find this loom. It did come unassembled without instructions. That is a crucial bit of information. User manuals are easily found on-line with very good information. Kudo’s to Leclerc for providing customers throughout the ages all the information they need to maintain and care for these lovely machines.

This is some of the Cotswold I used for the scarves
This is some of the Cotswold I used for the scarves

Like most of the world we were in lock-down of one sort or another, but at one point both my son’s were allowed to be in my home as long as I wasn’t, so they took the opportunity to come and set up the little darling for me. Well, that was the intention. The reality ended up with an attempt to sort out the messy meccano set called a loom, define the parts, try to read instructions, etc. that ended with one of them saying “nuts to this, I’m going to start supper and clean the bathroom”. When I got home, supper was on the brew, the loo was clean and one son was struggling with a partially assembled machine. We finished it together. Pear is a shape, and it is not a good one when skittering around under a small loom. Skitter may not be an accurate description either, but you get the idea. I’m too old for this sort of activity.

Cotswold is one of my favourite breeds and I had a lovely selection available for my first try after a long break from weaving. Several decades ago my then sister in law coerced me into taking weaving and spinning at the local college.  I loved it, she did not.  Once coming to this area, I was competent enough to be hired as a production weaver for a local artisan. We used sectional beams for warping and I prefer them to using a reel. The only draw-back for a sectional beam is the need to have individual bobbins for each thread. So if you are weaving at 10 threads per inch you will need 10 bobbins with enough yardage for the length and width of your warp. I really needed to crack out my math skills again. Thankfully, all the Cotswold I had spun, had yardage marked on the skeins, so I was confident that I had enough to use. I was going to make scarves for my sons.

I measured and did math and wound bobbins, redid the math; worried that I hadn’t done the math properly, so redid it and finally took the plunge.

bobbins all wound and ready for the sectional beam

Sectional beam getting ready to go

The weave pattern was a very basic twill.  I just wanted to get back to learning how to do a full loom set-up again.  The bonus would be having something useful to show for it at the end of the process. The idea of purchasing fiber to do this also seemed a little weird since my house was getting full of spun yarn. 

Final warp, all ready for weaving

Taking the plunge and using my own hand spun was a significant eye opening experience. The wool I chose was just too rough for the final product of scarves.  My sons are kind and tell me the scarves are warm and snuggly and all sorts of appropriate compliments, but the material feels a bit like kevlar.  

I am now more aware of producing fiber with an end purpose in mind, not necessarily for me, but for other people as well.  If I design the yarn with intent for an end use, I can explain to someone else what it will be good for.  Some hand spun is not as good for weaving as it is for knitting, and some hand spun should never be used for scarves!

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